A Year in Review

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20 senior competitors traveled to Denver, Colorado in hopes of earning one of the five spots as National Beef Ambassador. Five people representing five different states brought together for their passion and love as beef-met as strangers and will leave as friends!

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The power of a brand, loyalty to customers and the qualifications for grading CAB beef were all valuable lessons during our first trip as a National Beef Ambassador Team.

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Genetics are key to the breeding of beef producers. Fore front thinking done on behalf of businesses such as Select Sires, there is the ability to continue producing quality, safe, wholesome, and nutritious beef.

4

Educating a variety of individuals at the Pennsylvania Farm Show proved to be enlightening and engaging. The beef industry is proud to use food byproducts such as distiller grains and chocolate meal as a part of a total mixed ration for cattle.

5

Sizzling Hot San Antonia and the NCBA Convention was a week long educational adventure. Learning from some of the top notch beef industry men and women, experiencing the trade show, and being able to share some of knowledge about the beef industry showcased our time in Texas-where everything is bigger and better!

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A part of the New York City Half Marathon with the Pennsylvania and New York Beef Councils, I learned how busy and health conscious New York City residents are and was able to promote lean beef to the area runners as a great recover protein.

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While in Denver, Colorado, we were able to tour one of the largest feedlot companies and packing plants owned by JBS and Five Rivers Feedlots. The efficiency and timing of every worker in the JBS harvesting facility was down to the minute, and yet so amazing to think the abundance of meat that this plant harvests, packs, and ships in a single day so that consumers around the world can eat.

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Greely, Colorado is home to Greely Hat Works. This company sells cowboy hats all around the world and bases their business off of customer loyalty and trust-a similar theme to producers in the beef industry.

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Through a grant awarded to the National Beef Ambassador Program, we had the privilege to attend the Spring Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. Here we were able to meet key players in the beef industry allowing us to network and learn from them, as well as spend a day on Capitol Hill with our individual state representatives to discuss important beef industry issues.

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Cooking demonstrations were a big component of the Nashville cooking show. Here teammate Will and I prepare a fresh twist to a summer salad called Sugar Snap Pea and Sirloin Salad which included a lean cut of beef, barley rather than lettuce, and lemon peel for an added flavor. As a part of the Nashville Cooking Show, there were also interactive, hands-on stations that helped consumers better understand how to freeze beef, cut beef, season beef, and take the temperature of beef.

 

All in all this past year serving as a National Beef Ambassador has been filled with learning experiences, exciting travels, binding with individuals from various parts of the United States, and making memories that will last for a life time. Thank you to all those individuals who helped to make this past year a success!

For those contestants gearing up to travel to Denver next week, have fun! Meeting people from different backgrounds and learning about the beef industry from other advocates is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So above all the nerves, smile and showcase your inner personality, because it’s what makes YOU shine!

-Above all else, Beef It’s What’s For Dinner!

Demi

 

 

 

Show stock Lessons

When I was in 4-H, my parents always told me that showing livestock was a family affair. Although the animals were my project, working together as a family and receiving help from my parents throughout the summer show season was important.

While I was at the Ohio State Fair these past two weeks, I took a second to stop and look around at the families working together. I truly believe in the saying, “those that work together stay together.” Showing cattle was always more to me than just winning a purple ribbon or shiny trophy. Showing livestock teaches lifelong values and characteristics to the youth that they will always live by. Now that I am out of 4-H and have the chance to stand back and watch the up and coming generation of showman, I cannot help but reflect on the lessons showing livestock taught me, as well as watch these characteristics showcase in other youth.

  1. Hard work- the countless hours, days and night that are put forth to care for our livestock are unmeasurable. Eight a.m. show days come early in the morning when move in to the fair was finished up at midnight. Showing livestock teaches youth how to work hard with their project for success.

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    Showing beef cattle requires youth to spend time in the barn washing and drying their animal. Patience, time, and practice are three motivational goals learned through working hard.

  2. Dedication- showing livestock requires dedication to not only feed and water the animals every day, but also work with and clean them daily. Livestock youth are dedicated to the well-being of their animals all hours of the day, in all types of weather.

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    Spending the time with ones project is important to teach it how to walk, set up, and get use to a change in surroundings. Youth must be dedicated to work with their project multiple days a week to get it ‘show ready.’

  3. Manners- Working together as a family taught me that “please” and “thank-you” go a long way. Although some days can be more stressful than others or the days that parents seem to be doing everything backwards from planned, being a part of the show stock industry teaches youth to thank their parents, siblings, other youth, 4-H and FFA advisors, and the judge for their help and hard work.
  4. Tears- Everyone always has the hope of walking out of the show ring being the champion, but like so many things, there can only be one winner. Showing livestock teaches youth how to win with dignity and loose with grace. More times than not tears have been shed because an animal misbehaved or I wanted to place higher in a class than I did, but through the tears, I learned to be grateful for what I did have and shake the hand of the winner.
  5. Love- showing livestock is about loving what you do and doing it because you love it. My last two years in 4-H, I found my happy place in the barn washing and blow-drying my projects. Spending so much time with the same animal allows you to learn their personality and become best friends. Showing livestock teaches you to not only love your animals, but love your family for being there with you every step of the way.

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    Spending so much time with an animal throughout all weather conditions and throughout the highs and lows of every show allows you to become best friends. Learning the personality of your show animals and connecting with them in and outside of the ring can bring so much joy and happiness to youths’ life.

I could never express how truly grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to grow up on a farm and show livestock for numerous years. When I look back and reflect on the entirety of the years, the ribbons and banners won mean a lot, but the valuable lessons through experiences are treasures that have helped shape me into who I am today. I hope that as I begin to help the next generation of youth, as well as watch the youth working together with family and friends, they find value in the lessons showing their livestock will give, as I did throughout my years as a show stock kid.

Show cattle and smiles!
~Demi~

Making the Cut

Interacting with an array of beef consumers proves to be both educational and rewarding. These past few days, we had the opportunity to attend the Southern Women’s Cooking Show and spend four days teaching consumers about beef through interactive skill-set stations and cooking demonstrations. A personal favorite of mine, which also seemed to provide a wealth of knowledge to our event goers, was the “Making the Cut” skill-set station. In this station, consumers were taught the proper way to cut their steaks.

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The youth at the Southern Women’s Show were eager to interact and have a hands-on experience cutting the steak.

It is important to realize that steaks have grains in them. To achieve the best and most flavorful eating experience, one should cut against the grain, holding the knife to cut at a 45 degree angle. There are muscle fibers and tendons in our meat which help with the flavor and tenderization of the cut. Cutting against the grain ensures that the juices stay in the piece of meat, as well as when biting into the meat, you are now biting with the grain which adds for a more flavorful and juicy eating experience.

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As you can see from within this picture, the grains of the steak are vertical, therefore we knew to cut the steak horizontally short ways across the grains to have the best eating experience.

If you were to cut with the grain, when you go to bite down, all the muscle fibers and tendons in the meat would be pulling in many directions which causes chewiness. When we go to a steak house or cook our own steaks at home, it is important to check which way the grains are going in our meat. If you are unsure you can pull a little on the sides of the meat to determine the way the grains are going. Once this has been determined, turn your plate to be sure you are cutting your beef against the grain for the most flavorful, juiciness, and tender eating experience.

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Using your fork and knife to pull apart your cut of beef is important when you want to determine the way the grain is going so you can cut against it.

 

Happy Tuesday!
Demi

 

The Show Ring

“You do what to those cattle?!”  This is a phrase I’ve often heard when explaining to consumers about the show cattle side of beef production. They are often surprised that we not only bathe cattle, but blow dry, clip, condition and work hair on these animals, let alone put them on a halter and show them!

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My first heifer, Bella, inspired me to keep raising cattle and start my own cattle company

 

Not every producer is involved in showing, but there are some that make a living out of raising show cattle, and others that just want to occasionally showcase the quality of the animals they breed.  Still others are involved through youth programs like 4-H and FFA that teach members about raising these animals and often inspire them to pursue careers within the beef field.

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FFA helped me to develop my own start-up company, Ace Club Calves. We now exhibit our own cattle and have done well.

 

I’ll be very honest when I say that I would not be here if it weren’t for programs like 4-H and FFA.  I am a product of the show industry.  It is where I found my passion for cattle and learned innovative ways to raise them.  Without showing, I know that I would have never taken an interest in beef cattle nor found the passion I have for representing and advocating for this amazing group of people and their livelihoods.

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Making a bond with your calf is an important part of showing. Remmy was a very special calf that I truly enjoyed

 

The show industry is a great program in which youth can be exposed to raising cattle and what it takes to do so, and helps them to earn a little money that they can either save or spend as they please.  It teaches responsibility, commitment, compassion and accountability through having an animal rely on you to care for it.  Success in the show ring only comes if you work hard and do things the best way possible.  You have to ensure that you and your animal have a mutual respect and love for each other if you are going to get anywhere.

One of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know, Shannon is a friend that I met through showing

One of the most knowledgeable and passionate people I know, Shannon is a friend that I met through showing

Beyond the amazing qualities it helps to develop, some of my best friends have been made around the show ring.  There is just something about sitting in the bleachers watching cattle shows, or helping on another to clip or fit an animal that creates an inseparable bond.  Though we are all from different parts of the country, I know that I can rely on my show friends to always be there if I need advice or assistance.

 

From the Heart of Beef,

Alicia

Youth Beef Industry Day

This past weekend I had the opportunity to mingle and learn with youth and parents of the beef industry about responsible beef practices in and out of the show ring. For the past 16 years, Ohio has brought together youth and families allowing them the opportunity to exhibit their 4-H and FFA projects in a winter show program called the BEST circuit, which stands for beef exhibitor show total. The opportunities, showmanship skills, and leadership lessons learned throughout this program expand beyond the barn and the show ring, helping teach kids of all ages the responsibility, care, sportsmanship, and educational promotions that are all intertwined within the beef community.

Members of the program partook in a Youth Beef Industry Day, where they were able to listen to guest speaker Kirk Stierwalt in a Livestock Evaluation and Showmanship Session, as well as a social media as a communication session, learning different cuts of meat, and prominent issues in the beef industry-answering the question, what is our role?

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BEST youth participants engaged and asking questions throughout the days worth of advocacy presentations.

If you are in the BEST Program in Ohio, chances are you love showing, making friends and memories and most importantly, you love spending back-to-back weekends standing in Ohio’s cold weather. The first two sessions were geared towards the showman side of the beef industry. It is important as we look at showing our steers and heifers, that we first know the proper showmanship techniques in the ring, as well as the proper showman techniques out of the ring. Everyone loves to win, but it is obvious there is only one winner, and showing cattle teaches kids to win and loose with dignity and grace as well as being a good sport and congratulating others. It is also important that we teach our youth how to evaluate their animals. Not only is this important from the show side of the industry, but it is also important that at a young age, we learn how to evaluate our cattle for sicknesses so we can make the proper assessments to get them healthy again.

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Kirk Stierwalt talking about the proper evaluations to make on your show project.

Outside of the show ring, communication about the beef industry is important. Whether you are at your school lunch table, county fair, or on a social media site, portraying the beef industry in a positive light is necessary for all ages. It is important to teach these youth that all of us are advocates for the beef industry. While at the county fair, you have the power to engage in conversations with someone from a non-agricultural background, or you have the opportunity to tell your beef story about your daily work regnum before show ring time on your social media page.  Understanding the current topics in the beef industry and the best way to answer them is important for the youth and their parents. The power of communication is strong and promoting social media savviness and communication is a key to success.

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Dr. Garcia of The Ohio State University engages in conversation with youth in steak school…beyond the fluff.

Opportunities like this are vitally important as we prepare our next generation of leaders. It is important and necessary that they understand showing cattle is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can help you make new friends and memories, but showing cattle and being a part of a winter circuit allows you to learn so much more about leadership skills, hard work and responsibility, as well as the importance of promotions outside of the show ring. The beef industry is more than the end of a show halter and a shiny show stick, and teaching these youth of the beef industry that we all have a part to be advocates and promote our livelihood is extremely important.

It’s all about that BEEF!
Demi

And They Call the Thing a Cattle Show

If you would have told me ten years ago that I would be showing cattle, I would have asked you why anyone would want to do that. Somehow, in a roundabout way, my love of horses led me to my passion of cattle. Showing cattle has developed me into the person I am today and given me a love of the beef industry. I can honestly say, that without this experience, I would be nowhere near where I am today, and I most certainly wouldn’t be a National Beef Ambassador!  I get asked a lot what exactly showing cattle entails, and people are often surprised at the answer! I would like to briefly share a little bit about the world of cattle showing with y’all today.

The first thing y’all should know is that show cattle kids are CRAZY. We spend hours upon hours working and growing hair on our cattle, formulating special rations and spending time with our animals. Show cattle are more pets than anything else!

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The little monster, “Elsie”, hanging out in the house

Long before show day ever happens, we spend time rinsing our cattle everyday (sometimes multiple times a day) and working hair. This involves brushing them, putting in conditioners and then using a blower(essentially a very powerful hairdryer) to get them dry and make the hair “pop”.   All of these things are necessary to make the hair work for us on show day and be easier to clip.  A couple days before the show, we clip out our animals. Many people think this is simply shaving the cattle, but it would be more similar to sculpting. We shape the cattle’s hair so that it highlights their good features and can help to hide some of their bad. Clipping cattle requires great expertise and can truly transform a calf!

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Before

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After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, on show day, we give our animals a good bath, get them blown out just right and add oils to make them shine. We give them a final clip to make sure they look perfect, and add adhesives in their legs to make them look stockier.  Their halters are polished, and with show stick in hand, we head to the show ring to try and make a go for Grand!

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Showing a Cow/Calf Pair at AZ Nationals

Some of my best memories are hanging out at stock shows. There is just something magical about walking in the ring, and there is no better feeling than getting the “Champion Slap”. I am lucky that every year, I get to attend the Arizona National Livestock Show, in fact, it is one of my favorite things about coming home for Winter Break. We had a great show these past few days, and now we get ready for the next set of babies to start pampering for show season!

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Breakfast time at the Show!

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Pretty Proud!

 

 

 

Happy New Year Everyone!

Alicia

 

 

#FollowFriday

Merry Christmas Y’all! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and got to spend some time with those that are most important to us, our families. I know that I always enjoy the good food and being able to take a small break from our job taking care of our critters.

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“Moo-ey Christmas!”

 

A couple weeks ago, we ambassadors had an idea that we should share with you some new people to follow within the beef industry! These are organizations we are active members in and we certainly enjoy seeing what they are up to.

 

Farm CreditFCSA logo_2c_stack

  • These guys are great sponsors for many agricultural and beef oriented organizations, including the National Beef Ambassador Program
  • Lots of Farm Facts, Ag Opportunities and More!
  • Follow on Twitter @farmcredit and Instagram @farmcreditnational

 

Certified Angus BeefCertified-Angus-Beef-logo_burger_conquest_what_is

  • Terrific Beef Facts and Figures and even better recipes!
  • Follow on Twitter @CertAngusBeef, Instagram @CertifiedAngusBeef and Pinterest!

 

Beef Pros63de1b68e7aaf4fd202de08fd025cf47

  • Looking for fantastic recipes, new ways to think about beef, or great infographics? This is just the place!
  • Find them on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest @BeefPros

 

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  • Great place to keep up with the latest in the beef show world, especially with show season starting up!
  • Find them on Facebook under “Fluffy Cows”

 

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  • More wonderful beef facts and all kind of agriculture news from around the world!
  • Twitter – @Cargill and Facebook – Cargill

 

Feedyard Foodiedownload

 

A Farm Girl’s FightEmily on farm

  • A collegiate cattlewoman at Texas Tech has decided to blog about the real beef story
  • http://farmgirlsfight.blogspot.com/

 

Peterson Farm Brotherso-PETERSON-FARM-BROS-FRESH-PRINCE-facebook

  • This goofy farm family makes hilarious parodies that show the public what it means to be a farmer
  • You can find them on Facebook and YouTube

 

Beef CheckoffBeef-Checkoff-Logo

  • Beef Checkoff is a key player in supporting our cattle industry and helping to put out positive information about beef
  • Find them on Facebook – My Beef Checkoff and Twitter @MyBeefCheckoff

 

Some local Cattlewomen and Cattlemen Organizations are active and avid members of social media, as well. Here are some of our favorites!

 

Ohio Beef Council

            https://www.facebook.com/ohiobeef

Ohio Cattlemen’s Association

            https://www.facebook.com/ohiocattle

Collegiate Cattlewomen of Ohio State

            https://www.facebook.com/OSUCCW

Oklahoma Collegiate Cattlewomen

            https://www.facebook.com/OklahomaCollegiateCattlewomen

Oklahoma Cattlewomen

            https://www.facebook.com/groups/341441491580/

Wyoming Beef Council

            https://www.facebook.com/WYBeefCouncil

Wyoming Beef Ambassador Team

https://www.facebook.com/WyBeefAmbassador

Texas Cattlewomen

            https://www.facebook.com/TXCattleWomen

Texas Beef Leaders of Tomorrow Contest

            https://www.facebook.com/BeefLeaders

True Beef

            https://www.facebook.com/TrueBeeftheFilm

American National Cattlewomen

 http://www.ancw.org/

 

Cattle Care

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Happy Thanksgiving Y’all! There are lots of things we have to be thankful for this year – it was another year choc full of awesome memories, good times, and most importantly, GREAT cattle! I would also like to send out a sincere thank you to all the farmer’s and rancher’s who helped make this a bountiful feast (as always!) and provided us with a safe and wholesome meal.

 

As a college student, I have to admit I don’t always take the best care of myself or eat the most nutritious things. I certainly don’t have a diet plan, nor do I spend hours getting myself ready and looking my best for the day. Y’all are lucky if I decide to put on jeans and a blouse, instead of the usually T-shirt and sweats! And you know it must be a really special occasion if I straightened my hair and spent extra time on my makeup. What I may lack in my own personal habits, I certainly make up for in my cattle.

 

Each of my calves has a diet that is specially formulated for them based on their body type, their production goals and when the next show is. When we are gearing up for a show, my Mom will send me pictures almost weekly so I can monitor their progress and make sure they are right on track. These rations will often get changed multiple times before the show, based on how my cattle are looking. For example, Julie just had her baby, Elsie, so her nutritional needs have changed. Before Julie had calved, I didn’t want to feed her fatty foods such as corn, otherwise it could give her complications during calving, because the calf could get too big. Now that Elsie has been born, I evaluated Julie’s body condition and production goal and have modified her ration to include a little grain to ensure I meet her energy requirements for raising a calf.

 

Though a large part of showing cattle, nutrition isn’t the only thing! Because we raise and show hair cattle, it is extremely important to work hair on my calves and ensure they have a healthy hide and that their hair will grow. We do this by giving them baths every night, brushing them exactly right, then using a blower (giant hairdryer) to work that hair in the right direction. This helps the hair to “pop” and make them look fuller for the show.   We also use specially formulated hair conditioners to make sure their hair stays conditioned and luxurious.

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Maybe it’s Maybelline…

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My very own “Fluffy Cow”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though this is but a small portion of the care we take of our cattle on my operation, it should be obvious how much we love them.   I can honestly say I spend more time getting them ready and making sure they are perfectly groomed than I do of myself most days. And it is a certainty that they eat MUCH better than I do (Coffee and chocolate chips don’t make a good breakfast?).

 

Thanks and Gig ‘Em,

 

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Five Lessons from “April”

Last weekend marked a full year I had spent washing, blow-drying, working with, traveling, and showing my Maine-Anjou heifer “April.” I am so blessed to have had this experience with such a fun-loving animal that taught me so much along the way. As I reflect back on the year-long adventure there are five main things that “April” taught me that I would like to share with all of you!

  1. Patience: Bringing home a stubborn little calf proved to be more work than I originally expected. I had never worked with an animal that had such a different personality as this little calf. She soon developed the name “Princess” because she would only eat out of a blue pan, she only walked in one direction around my practice show ring, and she only liked being worked with my lime green show stick. To say the least, she developed her own “wants and needs” as did I, learning to be patient when working with her to make sure she cooperated for me.

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    Showing “April” for the first time

  2. Hard work does payoff: Showing her throughout Ohio’s winter show circuit, every weekend brought new experiences. I finally knew the two of us had developed a relationship between showman and animal when she finally listened and cooperated at our Beef Expo allowing us to make the cut into the next round of showmanship classes. This was a turning point in our relationship and helped me realize my patience and cooperation with her had paid dividends.

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    Showing “April” for the last time on the green shavings at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Kentucky

  3. The importance of friendships: The most rewarding aspects of showing cattle are the friendships that develop throughout the show stock experience. Traveling the winter show circuit allowed me the opportunity to meet and connect with many people that I now call my life-long friends!

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    “April” and “Cameal”-two friends from the start laying in the sun at the last winter show

  4. The importance of family: Showing cattle is a family activity to me and I am so blessed to come from such a supportive family and showing the past year has allowed me to bond with my parents and older brother more. My dad and I picked “April” out together as a calf and traveled to the majority of the shows together throughout the year. Getting to spend this “daddy-daughter” time together is something irreplaceable. Driving in snow storms, getting lost taking back roads because of the directions from the GPS, and spending a week together at the Junior Heifer Show in Kentucky are memories that will never be forgotten.

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    My dad helping me comb the hair up one last time before entering the show ring

  5. The unbreakable bond between a girl and her heifer: Throughout the year, I have been able to create an unbreakable bond between “April” and I. What an amazing year it was filled with times of learning, family, tears of defeat, smiles of wins, and most importantly a “book full of memories and experiences” gained over the past year; showing this heifer has truly been such a reward.

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    Taking a moment to capture a “close-up” at the county fair

I have my family to thank for driving me the many miles over Ohio and Kentucky to fulfill my dreams of showing the same heifer for a full year; this year would not have been possible without their loving and supportive attitudes! I want to dedicate this blog to my “Princess” who has allowed me to have an experience of a life-time and taught me so much along the way.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Demi

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Capturing a first place class win at The Ohio State Fair!

What I Learned Traveling as a National Beef Ambassador

As National Beef Ambassadors, a big part of our responsibility is to travel the nation and promote beef at assorted venues such as races, fairs, cooking and “foodie” events, campus events, etcetera. Our trips are coordinated through various states’ beef councils, CattleWomen groups, collegiate CattleWomen/men organizations, American National CattleWomen, National Cattlemen’s Beef Board, and others. Essentially, anywhere that we can promote beef to large volumes of people (or really any volumes of people), we’ll be there. Through these travels-most of which are at least a seven hour plane ride from California (not to mention hours and hours of layovers and even a sleepover at the Seattle airport)-I have learned several things:
1. Starbucks employees are trained to read name tags. It took several instances of me feeling very confused/frightened as to how my name was on the cup without me giving it to them.
2. The buckles are always a conversation-starter. People will go out of their way to come up to me and ask about my buckle in an airport–it’s awesome! image
3. Every security guard has a clever joke about beef. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “What do you call a cow with two legs?…Lean Beef!” (And I always laugh like it’s the first time I’ve heard it because security guards intimidate me).
4. There’s no better time to strike up a conversation with someone than when you’re sitting by them on a plane, and there’s no reason that conversation shouldn’t be about beef. I always explain what the National Beef Ambassadors are and if they lose interest, I ask if they have favorite cut of beef. That always gets them going.
5. Perhaps most importantly, traveling as a National Beef Ambassador has made me much more conscientious of how I’m acting and how I’m treating other people. As a representative of the nation’s beef industry, I need to be friendly and professional at all times. Now, even when I’m traveling for personal reasons, I find myself being more aware of my actions.
I’ve absolutely loved all of the conversations I’ve had while traveling this year. It has truly been one of my favorite parts of this journey as a National Beef Ambassador. Stay tuned for social media updates this weekend as Justana and I travel to New Jersey for the Atlantic City Food & Wine event.
Emma